I went so very far and I did witness, incredibly, so much that I can hardly remember it all. The verdant jungles of great national laboratories beckoned. Rivers of worthy data gushed from my computers as they dammed the experimental flows from my own custom built, sophisticated instruments in my lab at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Mountains of information crossed my desk as I planned my teaching course-work, prepared research efforts, detailed lecture material and secured my research laboratory notes for the dissertation that would never be written. In the mean time, in the cool valleys of science research libraries all over Chicago, I rested peacefully and drank deeply of the sparkling spring waters that nourished the very ground of all human innovation. I was supremely happy.
But things must change. The mean temperature of the universe is 3.2 degrees Kelvin. Earth bakes at 284 K. Only for a perfect crystal at absolute zero does time stop. When inevitable disappointment turned into disaster, I found I could not consummate my studies for the Ph.D. in chemistry that I had worked for since my second year of high school. But I still had hope.
I founded a commercial analytical laboratory that was subject to U.S. government regulatory enforcement whims. After five years I had to close it because the frenzy of fear surrounding the infamous asbestos hysteria abated. The E.P.A. stopped emphasizing remediation of this form of environmental contamination. Markets for my lab's services evaporated in the flames of the new rage against radon pollution of indoor air.
I gave my noble quest to do science one more try, in the name of pure knowledge and of my alma mater, when an unusual new opportunity arose in the pharmaceutical world for an inorganic analytical chemist like me. But, I was hired only as window dressing to run a show-laboratory for the approbation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Once the time for impressing the government bureaucrats had passed, my services were no longer needed. My expertise could be outsourced to any of a number of consulting laboratories. Only earnest proprietary drug firms maintained facilities in my area of analytical prowess (chemical microscopy). This was a generic pharmaceutical firm that was not really serious about aggressively pursuing quality.
After these three major setbacks I began to reconsider my trek away from God and the Church. Perhaps it was time to return, I thought. But, I had spent too much time thinking like a scientist to throw it all over now and blindly return to faith. I needed some rationale, some motivation.
During my sojourn, my faith had shriveled and was crippled with the diseases of disuse. So I crawled around in the dust and found a few good pieces of nice wood, a couple of sturdy rods from which I could fashion some strong trustworthy crutches. When I had finished my work, I set these tools, my new instruments, on flat hard ground and used them to painfully climb to my feet. I stood, but I could not walk. I was amazed at what I saw from that so very slightly loftier vantage.
Now, from this surprising new perspective I can see just above the milling crowd to distant places that before I could not even imagine. One tall, fine man quickly walks past in the distance. The crowd is parting in front of him and closing in behind, as though he is being propelled by the pressure of the multitude behind and attracted by the welcoming vacuum of clear perfect space in front. He seems to sense my presence and gently alters his trajectory toward me. As the humanity between us thins, I can see his kindly young face wears a wide new smile as if he had just been laughing.
He beams at me for a moment, examines my peculiar stance and the odd pieces of furniture I had fashioned out of wood and twine. ‘It is good!’ he declares.
I grin. ‘Yes. It took awhile, but now I am up again for the first time in years!’
‘Now walk. Come to me. And cast down your crutches. They are indeed just crutches!’ Jesus commanded.
‘Oh no, Sir, I have not taken a step for so long - I have forgotten how!’
‘Walk! Come to me. Throw away the lumber, you don't need it!’
There is something about a direct command from Jesus that cannot be ignored. I don't even want to. So, I hunch my shoulders; I draw a deep breath and take one, slow strangely painless step. Then the other foot follows. Suddenly I yield to an explosive urge to ditch the crutches. I walk!
After that, I come straight to Jesus, having journeyed almost thirty years. I walk to Him despite my atrophied muscle, my weakened bone. I follow Him with the crowd. I grow stronger; my legs carry me with growing vigor with each new step. I walk straight, upright with strength and stamina at every stride.
But I do not forget my crutches. I have drawn up a design. I describe my plan here in great detail. I offer it with this book of instructions. It will help get your head up above the crowd so Jesus can be seen, and He will see you! Then, at His command and only then, you will come to Him unaided, walking tall and strong with gladness, confidence and hope equal to my own.